A 25-year-old man was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his part in the shooting death of a man nearly five years ago during drug deal gone bad in La Quinta.
Kenneth Michael Wilson was convicted last month in the Jan. 30, 2015, murder of 20-year-old Ryan Sniffin of Joshua Tree. On top of his life sentence, a judge also tacked on an additional year to his prison sentence, according to John Hall, a Riverside County District Attorney’s Office public information officer.
A Friday sentencing date was also set for his co-defendant, Jesse Keith Cottom, 22, but was rescheduled for April 24. Cottom could face the same sentence at that time.
They were tried together at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, where a jury deliberated about six hours on Jan. 15 before finding the pair guilty of first-degree murder and attempted robbery, along with finding true of multiple sentence-enhancing allegations, including discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury, along with a special circumstance allegation of committing a murder during the commission of a robbery.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office did not seek the death penalty.
A sentencing date for Tuesday was previously rescheduled for Friday at the Banning Justice Center.
Cottom was 17 years old when he shot Sniffin, who was trying to buy an ounce of cocaine from him, and Wilson provided his co-defendant with the gun and was present when the shooting occurred, Deputy District Attorney Anne-Marie Lofthouse argued during the trial.
The victim arrived about 6:30 p.m. to the 51800 block of Avenida Ramirez in La Quinta to buy the drugs, according to prosecutors, but when Cottom arrived riding a bicycle — along with Wilson and another man — Sniffin refused the substances Cottom handed him, saying he wanted “better stuff,” according to trial testimony.
After initially riding away, Cottom returned on foot alone, and attempted to rob the victim, pointing a gun at the victim’s head, according to prosecutors and witness testimony. During the scuffle, Cottom shot Sniffin in the neck then fled.
Sniffin died about 11 that night at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs.
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